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A Year in Review: October 2009 May 3, 2010

Posted by maggieknight in A Year in Review.
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It’s hard to believe that all this happened in one month. Part 2 of 8.


October started and ended with time spent with my Millennium friends. The first weekend of October took me to the National Millennium conference, the last of its kind since the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation did not have its funding renewed beyond its initial 10-year mandate, was moved to Markham, ON at the last minute due to looming strikes in Ottawa. The Millennium Network emerged, we played Cranium, drank whiskey and coke, and went to some pretty awesome keynotes and workshops.

"Suddenly the world seems like such a perfect place..."

National Millennium Conference Sing-a-long

Power Shift organizing hit feverpitch, with Thanksgiving offering a brief respite. We spent the weekend rejoicing in local food, using every possible piece of the pumpkin, and being surrounded by friends (if not family). Powerhouse organizer Devon Willis almost single-handedly organized fundraising concert “Zut! Il Fait Chaud” to support McGill students attending Power Shift and her own trip to Copenhagen as part of the Canadian Youth Delegation.

On campus, I start working with Geography Professor James Ford on science communication concerning the impacts of climate change on the Inuit. McGill officially announced it would buy “Big Hanna,” an industrial composter, after several years of pressure by student group Gorilla Composting. McGill received an “A” for student involvement on the College Sustainability Report Card (and a B+ overall). The SSMU General Assembly was anticlimactic, losing quorum after the joke space efficiency motion was defeated. The energy efficiency motion passed, but the styrofoam and sustainable seafood motions were left unaddressed. STOP‘s Green Business Week and McGill’s Rethink Conference (focusing on the intersection of sustainability and education) flew by in the lead up to Power Shift.

The day finally comes, and McGill students piled onto the bus to head to Ottawa for Power Shift Canada. I found it incredibly exciting to finally meet all the amazing organizers I spent several months  working with by conference call and email as participants flow in from coast to coast to coast. From there it’s dance practices, keynotes (Clayton Thomas-Muller, Majora Carter, and Geoff Green, to name a few), thank yous, workshops, marches, and very little sleep. On Saturday we join C-Day: Fill the Hill on Parliament Hill as part of 350.org‘s International Day of Climate Action and perform our flashdance. Filming didn’t go according to plan, but this much got captured on camera:

And the end:

Protests in Parliament on Monday got mass media coverage, but the media preferred to focus on bloody noses instead of the actual issues. I returned to Montreal, exhausted, happy, and frustrated with the CBC, to confront much undone schoolwork and looming midterms.

In the build-up to Copenhagen, social media is used to rapidly spread videos like Avaaz.org‘s “Beds Are Burning”:

The month ended with a fantastic weekend in Mont Tremblant at the final Millennium Regional Conference. I practiced my French, we partied it up at Le Petit Caribou for Halloween, and we created a work of art which raised over $400.

Yes, this piece of "art" raised over $400 at auction...

Millennium Family at Tremblant, displaying our work of art

In other October 2009 enviro news:

Apple resigns from the US Chamber of Commerce over climate policy

Maldives cabinet meets under water


A Year in Review: September 2009 May 2, 2010

Posted by maggieknight in A Year in Review.
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I spent much of today organizing my apartment and sorting and filing assignments, notes, and so on from the academic year (which I finally finished on Thursday). It seems a good time to reflect on the past eight months. Here’s part one of eight.


The return to school was hectic, coordinating Power Shift Canada’s Recruitment Team with the lovely and talented Kimia Ghomeshi while settling into my new apartment.  Two lengthy Power Shift calls a week plus full time class made things a little crazy, but working with so many inspiring and dedicated people made it worthwhile. The PSC video contest and photo contest kick off.

How do we ensure that transitioning to localized food economies is done in a way that is affordable and accessible to everyone?

Questioning David Suzuki at Impact!

On campus, the SSMU Environment Committee started with a bang with the Strategic Planning for Sustainability session, complete with tasty eats left over from the McGill Food Systems Project‘s Film & Feast event. I started off a string of frequent weekends away with the Impact! Youth Leaders for Sustainability Conference in Guelph. McGill Residences hosted their first Local Food Day and Journalists for Human Rights McGill held its second successful Human Rights Train-the-Trainer program. And I got cranky with Max Silverman’s column.

At the UN climate change summit in New York, President Nasheed of the Maldives spoke eloquently about the impacts of climate change on his island nation: “Our country will not exist”.

Meanwhile, Stephen Harper opts to skip out on the proceedings of the summit in favour of a photo-op at a donut shop, sparking the campaign Harper Chooses Donuts Over Planet:

Around the world, citizens took part in Avaaz.org‘s Global Climate Wake-Up Call:

In other September 2009 enviro news:

Memorial becomes the second university to ban bottled water

Activists drop a 70ft banner off Niagara Falls to protest Tar Sands oil

Greenpeace blockades tar sands operations

A special edition of the New York Post announces “We’re Screwed